The Perils of Pedagogy

The Perils of Pedagogy: The Works of John Greyson

Brenda Longfellow
Scott MacKenzie
Thomas Waugh
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 568
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hnc5
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  • Book Info
    The Perils of Pedagogy
    Book Description:

    Whether addressing HIV/AIDS, the policing of bathroom sex, censorship, or anti-globalization movements, John Greyson has imbued his work with cutting humour, eroticism, and postmodern aesthetics. Mashing up high art, opera, community activism, and pop culture, Greyson challenges his audience to consider new ways that images can intervene in both political and public spheres. Emerging on the Toronto scene in the late 1970s, Greyson has produced an eclectic, provocative, and award-winning body of work in film and video. The essays in The Perils of Pedagogy range from personal meditations to provocative textual readings to studies of the historical contexts in which the artist's works intervened politically as well as artistically. Notable writers from a range of disciplines as well as prominent experimental and activist filmmakers tackle questions of documentary ethics, moving image activism, and queer coalitional politics raised by Greyson's work. Close to one hundred frame captures and stills from almost sixty works, along with articles, speeches, and short scripts by Greyson - several never before published - supplement the collection. Celebrating thirty years of passionate, brilliant, and affecting moviemaking, The Perils of Pedagogy will fascinate both specialists and general readers interested in media activism and advocacy, censorship, and freedom of expression.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8896-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xv-1)
    B.Ruby Rich

    The size of this volume is not the editors’ fault: it is the sheer consequence of the life led by John Greyson, who at this writing is alive and well and astonishingly young for such a weighty tribute. Its vastness, however, is an appropriate response to the vastness of his productivity and to the immense importance of his endless stream of renowned videos, films, writings, and off-screen, off-page activities. These pages, however capacious, however illustrious their contributors, can only begin to sketch the contours of a body of work that has limned its times with uncanny and unashamed brilliance, its...

  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)
    Brenda Longfellow, Scott MacKenzie and Thomas Waugh

    The Perils of Pedagogy: The Works of John Greyson critically examines Canadian film- and video-maker, interdisciplinary artist, activist – queer and otherwise – pedagogue, and all-round agent provocateur John Greyson. Born in 1960 and brought up in London, Ontario, Greyson emerged on the Toronto scene in the late 1970s. Whether addressing gay liberation, hiv/aids, the policing of public sex, or censorship or intervening in labour and anti-globalization movements, arts radicalism, or transnational coalitional politics, Greyson has imbued his work with iconoclastic formal experimentation and cutting humour while exploring documentary ethics, moving-image activism, and sexual politics. Working in film and video,...

  7. PART I HISTORICAL CONTEXTS, QUEER ACTIVISM
    • 2 Notes on Greyzone
      (pp. 19-42)
      Thomas Waugh

      I have heard myself say more than once over the last years that I have really said all that I have to say about Greyson. It began with a 1987 piece in French in Quebec, linking John’s video shorts of the day with “la nouvelle masculinité,” whereby I first discovered that my co-provincials routinely mix him up with another John – John Grierson – the sober Scots-Calvinist founder of the National Film Board of Canada and arguably by extension of the entire Canadian film industry – two men between whom this chapter may well find an odd kinship after all¹...

    • 3 Solidarity in Motion: Manzana por Manzana and To Pick Is Not to Choose
      (pp. 43-57)
      Chuck Kleinhans

      Two early collaborative works by John Greyson, Manzana por Manzana (1983) and To Pick Is Not to Choose (1985), provide insight into his politically motivated career and later artistic choices in terms of both form and strategy. But first they must be understood within their historical frame as “solidarity media.” The term describes film and video, in particular, made by outsiders who act in political sympathy with an active political movement. Taking a partisan position, solidarity media avoids the mainstream media’s journalistic concern with balance and its implicit and explicit use of enshrined authority figures. In North America this type...

    • 4 “Tell a Story, Save a Life” (Montage 1987–89)
      (pp. 58-68)
      Douglas Crimp

      Aids: Questions and Answers

      Aids: Get the Facts

      Aids: Don’t Die of Ignorance

      The sloganeering of aids education campaigns suggests that knowledge about aids is readily available, easily acquired, and undisputed. Anyone who has sought to learn the “facts,” however, knows just how hard it is to get them. Since the beginning of the epidemic, one of the very few sources of up-to-date information on all aspects of aids has been the gay press, but this is a fact that no education campaign (except those emanating from gay organizations) will tell you. As Simon Watney has noted, the British government...

    • 5 Buggering John Greyson
      (pp. 69-80)
      Cindy Patton

      In 1991, a Toronto community-access channel video project co-ordinated by John Greyson and Michael Balser was pulled from the air when the penultimate episode – about hiv in the South Asian community – offended station sensibilities. Ed Nasello, the Rogers Channel 10 program manager responsible for the decision, described Bolo! Bolo!, directed by local filmmakers Ian Rashid and Gita Saxena,¹ as “explicit,” “in bad taste,” and a breach of the trust community access implied, citing in particular “men French-kissing and caressing of thighs” (Harris 1991). Arguing that the explicitness was comparable to that seen on mainstream channels after 10 p.m.,...

    • 6 John Greyson’s After the Bath, Moral Panic, and Interpublic Address
      (pp. 81-98)
      Vincent Doyle

      This chapter discusses After the Bath, a documentary by John Greyson that was first broadcast on cbc Newsworld in 1995. My analysis builds on two previously published essays about Canadian media coverage of a so-called kiddie-porn ring in London, Ontario, which is also the subject of Greyson’s documentary.¹ Between November 1993 and July 1995, fifty-seven men in London were arrested and charged with over 2,500 counts of breaking a variety of Canadian sex laws. Most of the men, under advice from their lawyers, pleaded guilty, and many of them served time as a result of their convictions. All the charges...

  8. PART II OBSESSIONS
    • 7 John Greyson’s Queer Internationalism
      (pp. 101-112)
      Richard Fung

      John Greyson made international headlines in 2009 when he pulled his short film Covered (2009) from the Toronto International Film Festival (tiff). In a public letter to the festival’s directors, Greyson explained that his withdrawal was due to tiff’s choice of Tel Aviv as the inaugural “Spotlight” for its City to City program. He argued that a celebration of Israeli cinema was inappropriate given the recent attack on Gaza, which had resulted in the deaths of nearly a thousand Palestinian civilians.¹ He also protested City to City’s collaboration with the year-long Brand Israel campaign, which sought to replace the country’s...

    • 8 Parsing the Transnational in John Greyson’s Queer Cinema: Proteus, Fig Trees, Covered, and Hey Elton
      (pp. 113-134)
      Chris E. Gittings

      John Greyson’s exploration of queer subjectivities extends beyond the limits of a Canadian national field of vision to South Africa in Proteus (co-directed with Jack Lewis, Canada/South Africa, 2003) and Fig Trees (Canada, 2009), to Sarajevo in Covered (Canada, 2009), and to Israel/Palestine in Hey Elton (Canada, 2010). The increased global compression that social theorists such as Arjun Appadurai, Anthony Giddens, and Roland Robertson associate with globalization has had a marked impact on Greyson’s life and work.¹ In negotiating the etymology, currency, and usage of the term “globalization,” Robertson references Marshall McLuhan’s 1960 concept of “the global village,” which offered...

    • 9 Fables of Empire: The Intimate Histories of John Greyson
      (pp. 135-147)
      Susan Lord

      In the 1980s and 1990s “solidarity” cinemas were largely anchored in identity politics, using realist representational modes to authenticate bonds of political affinity and association. Meanwhile, John Greyson was restaging colonial history through what Ann Laura Stoler calls the “intimacies of empire”: those affective relations that extended, complicated, and intervened in the colonial projects of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Greyson’s fables of empire project a realm of desire and derring-do on the past wherein those charged with and corralled by colonial expansion are imagined to perform differently. All of these interventions are marked by an interplay between solidarity...

    • 10 And Now for Something Completely Dissident: The “Parodic Historical” and “Archival Necrology” of John Greyson
      (pp. 148-168)
      Scott MacKenzie

      Many recurrent themes run through John Greyson’s work – queer politics, hiv/aids activism, solidarity political action with marginalized, under-represented and persecuted groups – yet one theme that unites all these issues is Greyson’s profound preoccupation with history, its role in both preserving and eliding the past, and the way in which being cognizant of the historical revitalizes the present. Greyson critically and self-reflexively questions how moving images function in the cultural and political imagescape by rearticulating marginalized, repressed, and forgotten histories (through the use of a variety of strategies, including found footage, faux-found footage, quotation, collage, détournement, and appropriation) in...

    • 11 Froth and Its Uses
      (pp. 169-179)
      Gary Kibbins

      Early in John Greyson’s Fig Trees, a question is posed to Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson regarding their opera Four Saints in Three Acts: “Why all this frothy absurd nonsense, when fascists threaten Spain?” This is, by any measure, a reasonable political and moral question, self-reflexively encapsulating the political and moral range of the film in which it appears. Its historical references aside, the real purpose of the question is to redirect it: “Why all this frothy absurd nonsense in this ostensibly serious film about aids activism?” It’s a question that even those familiar with the customarily oblique tendencies of...

    • 12 Greyson, Grierson, Godard, God: Reflections on the Cinema of John Greyson (from North of Everything: English-Canadian Cinema Since 1980 [2002])
      (pp. 180-195)
      Christine Ramsay

      Emerging from the Toronto gay community of the late 1970s into the Toronto arts community’s radical video movement of the 1980s, what John Greyson is after has always been political intervention for alternative communities and audiences. Listed in Take One’s “100 Great and Glorious Years of Canadian Cinema – The Sequel,” Greyson is celebrated in Canadian film and video circles for the “unique combination of wit and didacticism” he brings to the issues of queer culture, making him “a force for the mainstream to reckon with” (Wise 1997, 29).

      His work as a cultural agent provocateur, he tells Peter Steven,...

    • 13 “Strike a Pose”: Notes towards Queering Tableau and Temporality in the Work of John Greyson
      (pp. 196-208)
      Kass Banning

      Adopting the lessons of 1980s film theory, critics have habitually characterized John Greyson’s early video work and films as Brechtian and decidedly camp. Various analytical frameworks have included a Bakhtinian mélange of guerilla parody, theatricality, direct address, and mindful quotation, where Greyson’s oeuvre was deemed hybrid, invariably situated under the banner of political modernism (or, as some have argued, postmodernism). Perhaps most pointedly, this criticism argued that Greyson’s films produced a particular queering of both historical archive and cultural artifact, as they navigated between high and popular culture, straight and queer, local and global, white-privileged and minoritized, documentary and avant-garde,...

    • 14 Audio Visual Judo
      (pp. 209-215)
      Mike Hoolboom

      Is there an art of protest? Could we claim for it a lineage, name it as a genre, establish timelines that might be drawn between the cave paintings of Lascaux, Picasso’s Guernica, and the blues? Or are there only specific conditions requiring singular responses? Perhaps in the acts that have highlighted inequities of every stripe, one could point to representations that have endured beyond the circumstances that have inspired them. Call them signposts for saying no. Inspirations and examples. Chief amongst their contemporary media art exponents is John Greyson. John is someone who takes the news personally. Instead of settling...

    • 15 “God is a lesbian,” Says John
      (pp. 216-224)
      Deirdre Logue

      Cruising to Alaska with my mom, it’s the “trip of a lifetime” in a life that seems too short to waste and too long to ignore. On the ship, in the Crow’s Nest on Deck 10, it’s Trivia Challenge, and I learn a few new things: the only two true perennial vegetables are rhubarb and asparagus; the only other possible pair in a Deadman’s Hand, other than aces, are eights; and the heaviest human organ is the liver. I had guessed right eleven times out of sixteen, joining the four-way tie for most answers right … the tie breaker: how...

  9. PART III IN HIS OWN WORDS
    • 16 The Boxboys (from The Body Politic, September 1979)
      (pp. 227-233)
      John Greyson

      Eighteen-year-old high school dropout and aspiring artist-writer John Greyson had arrived in Toronto in 1978 – “to make art and to come out” (Longfellow, interview). In 1979, he snagged a summer internship and later a job at the up-and-coming arts magazine Centerfold (later fuse), where he worked with pillars of the emerging Toronto art world Lisa Steele, Clive Robertson, and Colin Campbell, who would become his special guides. That fall, the following piece of experimental fiction, constructed through brilliantly simulated clippings and fake personae and journalists, was the first sign in the internationally respected, local “gay liberation journal” of a...

    • 17 Fact and Fiction (from The Body Politic, November 1979, 36)
      (pp. 234-237)
      John Greyson

      Two months later, Greyson tried out his film critic smarts in the bp, and they’re considerable. The two films covered were a provocative pairing for the Toronto International Film Festival, to say the least: a hot property from the post-Franco Spanish branch of the queer European art cinema, then on a roll as the decade of Fassbinder and Pasolini was winding down and Almodovar was still waiting in the wings, together with a short and Canadian consciousness-raising documentary by Montreal’s Harry Sutherland, then known for his unique Canadian activist doc Truxx of the previous year. Lesbian and gay cinemas and...

    • 18 Skirting the Issue (from The Body Politic, April 1981, 31–2)
      (pp. 238-242)
      John Greyson

      Greyson was about to move to New York City when he filed this review. His productive comparison of two radical drag theatrical productions by the London-based troupe Bloolips and the Amsterdam-based De Softies offers an evocative glimpse of the ongoing conversation between gay men and lesbians about the politics of gender transgression and performance. Lesbian separatism was reaching its historical apogee and the so-called sex/porn wars were escalating (the paradigm-shifting Barnard Conference on sexuality was to take place one year later in April 1982). Greyson’s complaint about the Dutch troupe’s racialized homogeneity is also of interest, not only because it...

    • 19 Queer behind the Curtain: Interview with John Greyson (from The Body Politic, October 1985, 23–4)
      (pp. 243-247)
      Tim McCaskell and John Greyson

      Providing a fascinating glimpse of Old Left/Cold War politics confronting international new social movements (including lesbian and gay movements) in the waning years of the Soviet empire, this interview details twenty-five-year-old Greyson’s “adventures” – political and sexual – at the Moscow World Youth Festival of 1985. It sets the stage for his video treatment of the episode, Moscow Does Not Believe in Queers (the work, released the following year, queerly appropriated the title of the 1980 Soviet Oscar-winner melodrama Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears), a bold hybrid essay combining the artist’s ventriloquized tourist diary with media collage around the...

    • 20 Parma Violets (from Urinal and Other Stories, [1988] 1993)
      (pp. 248-257)
      John Greyson

      This “fake video script” was first published as Greyson’s contribution to the exhibition catalogue for Against Nature, an early exhibition of aids-related art held in a Los Angeles artists’ space in 1988. It was then tweaked for the second 1992 Canadian anthology on aids cultural resistance, James Miller’s Fluid Exchanges: Artists and Critics in the aids Crisis (based on Miller’s conference at the University of Western Ontario in 1988), and then finally recycled in a slightly less Canadian version in the 1993 “artist book” collection of Greyson’s writings, Urinal and Other Stories, from which this reprint is taken. “Parma Violets”...

    • 21 Still Searching (from A Leap in the Dark: AIDS, Art & Contemporary Cultures, 1992, 85–95)
      (pp. 258-267)
      John Greyson

      Greyson contributed to two Canadian anthologies on cultural responses to hiv/aids that appeared with miraculous synchronicity in 1992. A Leap in the Dark, edited by Allan Klusaček and Ken Morrison, came out of “Sidart,” the rich culture and arts sidebar that had been organized by the editors for the Fifth International aids Conference held in Montreal three years earlier, and most of the contributors had participated in one form or another. As he narrates in his first-person account of the production of his four video works on hiv/aids up to the point of publication, Greyson had participated at the conference...

    • 22 Security Blankets: Sex, Video, and the Police (from Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video, 1993, 383–94)
      (pp. 268-278)
      John Greyson

      The early 1990s were like any other period of Greyson’s career, dazzlingly prolific. If it wasn’t enough to be making a feature film and mounting major exhibitions, there were also the two books brought out in 1993, the collection of the artist’s writings (see chapter 20) and a bold, fat, and unique anthology, Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video, co-edited with his old New York aivf pal Martha Gever and British video artist Pratibha Parmar. Unlike most Routledge queer/cultural studies anthologies of the decade, stuffed with academics stuffing their c.v.’s, this historic volume is bursting with...

    • 23 The Coconut Strategy: Shape-Shifting in Filmmaking (from Montage, Fall 2001)
      (pp. 279-282)
      John Greyson

      This whimsical personal essay was written in the aftermath of the Third Summit of the Americas held in Quebec City in April 2001, where the historic city had been transformed into a chain-link fortress for Jean Chrétien and George W. Bush to carry out their planning for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, besieged by thousands of anti-globalization protesters from all over the continent. Building on the momentous protests that had basically closed down the World Trade Organization Ministerial Summit in Seattle in 1999 (also known as the Battle of Seattle), the Battle of Quebec City counted many...

    • 24 Something Always Seems to Go Wrong Somewhere: Eisenstein at the Barricades, Pasolini at the Baths (from Public 25 [2002]: 110–18)
      (pp. 283-293)
      John Greyson

      Using the 2001 Battle of Quebec City as a springboard for the second time, this essay was based on a panel presentation at the “Public Access” conference at Queen’s University in October 2011 entitled “Blowing the Trumpet to the Tulips: An Exchange on Experimental Media.” Greyson shared his round table, “Critique and Capitalism,” with scholar Laura Marks (see chapter 32) and curator Michelle Kasprzak. The conference proceedings were gathered in issue 25 of the Toronto periodical Public the following year, and Greyson’s revision of his presentation incorporates some apparently testy arguments he faced in the q&a about the historical relationship...

    • 25 The Singing Dunes: Colin Campbell, 1943–2001 (from C Magazine, 2002)
      (pp. 294-299)
      John Greyson

      This eulogy for the influential Canadian art-video pioneer is also the eulogy for an artistic collaborator of twenty-plus years – and for an ex-lover who died suddenly of an undetected cancer in 2001. Campbell’s legacy has now been guaranteed in the deluxe ten-DVD box set, featuring thirty full-length tapes, produced by Toronto’s Vtape in 2008, but he also can be seen as the star of Greyson’s Jungle Boy (1985) and The ads Epidemic (1987, produced when the two artists were involved conjugally, with Campbell perfect as Gustav von Aschenbach on the Toronto Island ferry). Greyson’s wry tenderness and deep sense...

    • 26 PILS SLIP (from Vertigo, Autumn 2005)
      (pp. 300-305)
      John Greyson

      This piece was published in 2005 in Vertigo, the magazine of the Close-Up Film Centre, the London, UK, independent film co-op, in a special issue on Canadian cinema that featured in large part a spectrum of practitioners, from Mike Hoolboom (see chapter 14) to Guy Maddin. Greyson offered both a script excerpt and a synthesis of the origins of Fig Trees, which at that point was still a video-opera installation that had run in Oakville, Ontario, at the end of 2003, and was moving relentlessly towards its better-known feature film version of 2009. Why opera? Why South African aids activist...

    • 27 Everett Klippert: A Musical Waiting to Happen (unpublished, 2005)
      (pp. 306-311)
      John Greyson

      We are publishing this snippet of a script for a never-to-be-pursued film as a fascinating glimpse of the intersection of political topicality and Greyson’s artistic process. Prodded by the landmark legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada in June 2005 (enacted by the Liberal minority government of Prime Minister Paul Martin) and influenced by Gary Kinsman’s research into the Canadian state regulation and punishment of sexual diversity (which would be published only in 2010 after decades of groundwork as The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation [with Patrizia Gentile]), Greyson was among many politicos and artists who did...

    • 28 A Whore on Terror: Several Quodlibets (unpublished, 2006)
      (pp. 312-322)
      John Greyson

      Another return to the old hometown, this keynote screening/lecture was delivered at “Global Queeries: Sexualities, Globalities, Postcolonialities,” a conference organized by Margaret de Rosia and her colleagues in the Department of Film Studies at the University of Western Ontario. A vivid rollercoaster ride through Greyson’s oeuvre and the geopolitical context of the War on Terror, this address originally included the screenings of Toronto curator Scott McLeod’s tape Potemkin as well as Greyson’s own works This Is Nothing, On Message, Laws of Enclosure, and a never-finished work-in-progress entitled “Whore on Terror,” featuring Toronto artists Richard Fung and Rebecca Garrett dressed up...

    • 29 Waiting for Gaydot (unpublished, 2009)
      (pp. 323-340)
      John Greyson

      Greyson’s belated graduate studies at the University of Toronto were more than fruitful. The following chapter is basically an imaginatively formatted term paper written for Tamara Trojanowska’s 2009 drama seminar, disguised as another never-realized idea for a film, er, play. Among other things, it continues to play with the threesome idea (queer meets avantgarde meets left) from chapter 24. Illustrated by triptychs that the present volume is not able to reproduce, it also echoes certain conceits from The Making of “Monsters” from almost twenty years earlier (see chapters 32 and 33), which Greyson clearly hadn’t yet got out of his...

  10. PART IV THE FILMS
    • 30 Defending Desire: Direct(ing) Gay Male Sex (from Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-orientation in Film and Video, 1996)
      (pp. 343-350)
      Chris Straayer

      While lesbian sexuality has until recently remained culturally invisible, the sexual practices of gay males have made them acutely visible. Standing in for more complex and varied lifestyles, a synecdoche of sex offers up gay males as the return of the repressed. Their sexuality, semiotically and narratively linked to the anus and public bathrooms, personifies Western culture’s belief that sex is dirty. With this different relation to the sexual image, gay men are left with defending their pleasure rather than, as with lesbians, asserting it. In Marlon Riggs’s Affirmations (1990), a young black male recalls his first experience with anal...

    • 31 On the Uses and Disadvantages of a History of the Other: An Untimely Meditation (from The Ethics of Marginality, 1995)
      (pp. 351-370)
      John Champagne

      An intertitle announces a date, June 28, 1937. A group of artists has met under mysterious circumstances in the garden of an abandoned church shared by two Canadian sculptors, Florence Wyle and Frances Loring. The guests include the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, the African-American poet Langston Hughes, the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima, and Dorian Gray. The assembled artists wonder aloud who has summoned them here and for what purpose. Kahlo is just finishing a portrait of Gray when the next guest, the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, arrives. As Kahlo completes the painting of the nude Gray, an earthquake occurs, followed...

    • 32 “Nice gun you’ve got there”: John Greyson’s Critique of Masculinity (from Parachute 66 [1992]: 27–32)
      (pp. 371-382)
      Laura U. Marks

      “The new man,” Klaus Theweleit writes, “is a man whose physique has been mechanized, his psyche eliminated – or in part displaced into his body armour” (1989, 162). This image describes a large part of the contemporary project of masculinity, which is to establish a distance from the male body, conferring upon men an abstraction that allows them to stand in for a general authority. Theweleit’s “new man” refers to the Freikorps, fascist mercenaries in post–World War I Germany. However, sterilization and sublimation are still central to the myth of masculine power, as the media success of the high-tech...

    • 33 “Bash back, baby, your life depends on it”: Pedagogical Responses to Anti-Gay Violence in John Greyson’s The Making of “Monsters”
      (pp. 383-407)
      Susan Knabe and Wendy Gay Pearson

      The first film begins with a shot of the full moon. As threatening music plays, the moon’s face is slowly covered by scudding clouds. The film cuts to a long shot of a pickup truck driving through a forest. The haloed headlights, like the moon, flare momentarily to almost fill the screen, then go out as the truck stops. A title announces that this is El Dorado, California, at the same time as a voice-over (narrated in Gore Vidal’s sombre tones) explains that four young men have driven the truck to this remote location to bury the body of their...

    • 34 Zero Patience, The Musical
      (pp. 408-424)
      Kay Armatage

      Like everything else in the history of the world, Zero Patience (1993) came together as a result of a convergence of social and artistic movements; postnational network nodes, flows, and systems; geopolitical and economic forces; institutional policies and practices; homegrown heroes and cultural communities; and have I mentioned the kitchen sink? Rather than a textual divertissement, this paper seeks a materialist analysis of the local, national, and transnational contexts, vectors of influence, budgetary exigencies, triumphs and tragedies of the production of Zero Patience

      Toronto, 1980–1993: As in many local communities and perhaps especially in cinematic media, the production protagonists...

    • 35 “But … it’s so beautiful”: Collective Fantasy in Lilies (from Nouvelles “vues” sur le cinéma québécois, no. 8 [Winter 2008])
      (pp. 425-437)
      Shannon Brownlee

      “Simon may have stretched the truth a bit about his love story, but it’s so beautiful.” The camera is trained on a speaker (Brent Carver) who stands in a coldly lit prison chapel; he has a 1950s haircut and a wears a shabby blouse to represent an early twentieth-century gown. He is quietly struggling to explain to the irate Bishop Bilodeau (Marcel Sabourin) why he and his fellow prison inmates have risked punishment and devoted hours to re-enacting events from the bishop’s youth forty years earlier. They have been moved by the story their fellow convict, Simon Doucet (Aubert Pallascio),...

    • 36 Three Peters and an Obsession with Pierre: Intellectual Property in John Greyson’s Un©ut
      (pp. 438-449)
      Martin Zeilinger and Rosemary J. Coombe

      Although the cultural consequences of intellectual property enforcement have recently received sustained critical and popular attention (e.g., Boon 2010; Halbert 2005; Lessig 2004; Lethem 2007; McLeod and Kuenzli 2011), creative practitioners have thematically explored the cultural consequences of intellectual property’s exercise for a much longer period of time (McClean and Schubert 2002; Evans 2009). John Greyson’s oeuvre is a case in point. Many of his films, including The Making of “Monsters” (1991), 14.3 Seconds (2008), and The Ballad of Roy & Silo (2008), revolve at least in part around critical commentary on the exercise of copyright, trademark, and publicity rights as...

    • 37 Counting Time in The Law of Enclosures
      (pp. 450-461)
      Peter Dickinson

      In the final frames of John Greyson’s The Law of Enclosures (2000), a dying Hank (Sean McCann), felled by a hunter’s stray bullet in the woods adjacent his recently built retirement home, tells Bea (Diane Ladd), his wife of forty years and newly in love with him after a long period of estrangement and mutual recrimination, “It’s better this way … We would have just fucked it up again. This way we’re saved.” Hank then asks Bea to count down from ten, the slow but steady diminution of his own being as he slips towards death mirrored in the movement...

    • 38 Queer Anachronism and National Memory in Proteus
      (pp. 462-474)
      Roger Hallas

      When South African filmmaker Jack Lewis was producing a series of educational documentaries for the Robben Island Museum in the late 1990s, one of the former anc prisoners and a member of the museum board, Rafiq Rohan, recounted a telling anecdote.¹ During the late 1980s, prisoners on Robben Island were granted the privilege of a weekly film screening. In the spirit of democracy, each prisoner got to select a title. Although he was still deeply in the closet about his homosexuality, Rohan bravely selected Hector Babenco’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1985) and convinced his fellow inmates to go along with...

    • 39 Ten Propositions on Operatic Subversions and the “Charge of the Real” in John Greyson’s Fig Trees
      (pp. 475-492)
      Brenda Longfellow

      Fig Trees had its origin as a vast interactive installation at the Oakville Galleries in Oakville, Ontario, in 2003. Deploying multi- and single-channel projections, the interactive piece invited visitors to move from room to room, each component of the installation linked through the performance of an affecting operatic score written by Greyson’s collaborator, David Wall. Riffing off Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s 1934 opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, Fig Trees imagines Stein and Thomson collaborating on a new opera that would immortalize Zackie Achmat, the South African anc and then aids activist whose treatment strike gained him international notoriety...

    • 40 Thoughts on Fig Trees (from Fig Trees: A Video Opera by David Wall and John Greyson, catalogue to accompany exhibition at the Oakville Galleries, 2003)
      (pp. 493-498)
      Bongani Ndodana-Breen

      John Greyson thrives on defying artistic conventions, and his latest work, Fig Trees (2003), with composer David Wall, is no exception. Fig Trees is a powerful and epic contemporary work that defies classification. It consists of a series of documentaries, art films, several art installations, and gorgeous music, all lovingly conceived and woven together as a genre-defying, interactive, multimedia operatic pastiche that could never be produced on the stage of an opera house.

      One could write a whole book that presents a well-argued critical analysis of the narrative and music of Fig Trees, of the themes and ideas explored in...

    • 41 Opera Games (from Fig Trees: A Video Opera by David Wall and John Greyson, catalogue to accompany exhibition at the Oakville Galleries, 2003)
      (pp. 499-502)
      David Wall

      My first important and formative opera experiences were not in theatres or concert halls. It was through my parents’ stereos and tvs that opera became my favourite art form as I listened ecstatically to box sets of Mozart and Wagner and watched “live from the Met” broadcasts. It wasn’t just the catchy tunes, glorious voices, and fantastic over-the-topness of the music that hooked me. I loved how the records looked and felt; the grandiose self-importance of the packaging and libretto booklets; the wonderful translations, provided to break the Italian and German codas belted out by the unintelligible, Viking-helmeted, over-emotive singers....

  11. Filmography
    (pp. 503-516)
  12. John Greyson: Selected Writings
    (pp. 517-518)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 519-540)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 541-548)
  15. Index
    (pp. 549-563)